NGOs appeal to federal, state governments not to proceed with Silicon Island project

GEORGE TOWN: The Consumers' Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) have strongly appealed to both the federal and state governments to not proceed with the Penang Silicon Island project.

CAP president Mohideen Abdul Kader and SAM honorary secretary Mageswari Sangaralingam expressed deep regret that the state government had just revealed that works on the project would start today, after the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for the project was approved by the Department of Environment (DOE) in July.

"We wish to know if the state government has obtained the planning permission to commence the project under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976.

"This is a legal requirement which needs to be followed," they said in a joint statement.

The legal issues aside, Mohideen and Mageswari said they were appalled that the Madani government was hell bent on proceeding with the project despite the concerns and objections raised by fishermen, including PEN MUTIARA, the official fishermen's association and the Persatuan Nelayan Kawasan Selatan Pulau Pinang (PNKSPP) and all the units of the fishermen villages here.

They said the fishermen had challenged the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report but no hearing date has been fixed yet by the Appeal Board set up under the Environmental Quality Act, 1974.

"The scaling down of the project from three islands to one island has not allayed our concerns and those of the fishing community.

"This project is simply not needed as we have argued time and again that land on the mainland is more than sufficient for any expansion of economic activities.

"Destroying a vital ecosystem that is bio-diverse and which cannot be replaced is simply unjustifiable and does not make any sense.

"The Madani government has professed to act in the interest of ensuring social justice, but ignoring the strenuous objections from the official fishermen's association goes in the wrong direction of good governance and a caring government," they added.

As such, Mohideen and Mageswari said, they once again appealed to the federal government and the Prime Minister in particular, and the state government in not exacerbating the environmental and social injustice by proceeding with the reclamation project.

"Please listen to the voices of those who represent the genuine interests of the fisherfolk and not give in to the lobby of private interests who put profits over people and halt the commencement of works immediately," they stressed.

Earlier today, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said preparatory works for the Penang Silicon Island project would begin starting today and would continue until the related works were completed.

He said this followed the approval to the EMP for the project which was obtained from the state DOE on July 21.

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